Thursday, September 27, 2007

Two things. Well, three.

One: I really, really don't like Bob Dylan. Whiny little so-and-so...

Two: I was listening to NPR this afternoon and heard a review of the 40th anniversary edition of The Graduate by the network's - what did they call him again... reviewer-at-large? Roving reviewer? Anyway, some guy named John; it cracked me up. See, when the film first came out, he was a sophomore in high school, and he saw it repeatedly (the way some of my generation saw Star Wars, albeit when they were five years or so younger). He felt swept up in the zeitgeist of it all; he felt as if Nichols had made the movie just for him. In the review, he wryly noted (side note: at least some programs on NPR remember to poke fun at themselves for putting such a premium on wryness, though this was not one of those programs) that millions of other teens felt exactly the same way. He identified strongly with the Ben character (Dustin Hoffman, for anyone who - like me - has never actually seen the movie but only the "You're trying to seduce me, Mrs. Robinson," clip). He says that Mrs. Robinson was much more interesting to him than her daughter even at the time, but still goes with the Young as his point of connection with the movie back then.

Fast forward: he refuses to re-watch the movie until now, when he was asked to review it, honoring his memory of it (yup, actually said that). (Another side note: I'm not above "honoring the memory" of something by avoiding it; I'm sure I've done so myself. But I recognize that the impulse comes from fear that it'll either (a) age poorly, or (b) reveal me as a philistine. Probably a lot more (b) than (a). I recently passed up the chance to watch Ladyhawke, which I loved in my early twenties, for just that reason. Maybe next week I'll be brave...) He was pleased and delighted that the film held up well through the years... but lo and behold, as a grown man he suddenly "realized" that the true "rebel without a cause" (yup, actually said that too) was not Ben but Mrs. Robinson. Ben was, he said, a cipher, a suburban placeholder for the real (one might say "authentic") rebels who, by the time the film hit theaters in 1967 rather than the few years earlier when the film appeared to have been set, were actually on the scene in American life; Mrs. Robinson, now, she was the iconoclast, the brave soul who broke out of her milieu.

Oh, please. He's now 55, by my count, and suddenly Mrs. Robinson is the "real" rebel? Is this guy completely without self-awareness? If he would just have wrapped up his review with a (wry) "Of course, I would think that now, wouldn't I?" I would've forgiven him. But instead, we're supposed to stroke our chins and muse, with him, over the Truth that back in the '60s, Ben was universally perceived as the rebel, yet now, with our eyes sharpened by time, we can easily perceive that it was Mrs. Robinson, all along, who should have engaged our sympathies. Or perhaps "empathies" is a better word, since that's the obvious problem here: he identifies with the middle-aged character now. Duh.

I am not, I repeat, immune to these feelings. I certainly identify more strongly now, speaking of the zeitgeist and all, with the Han Solo of Return of the Jedi than with the Mark Hamill of A New Hope (which, for you non-Star Wars geeks, is Episode IV, most commonly known as Star Wars), and I don't identify in any smallest way with any character from any of the Episode I-III movies (especially not that bleeping Natalie Portman, just hours from delivering twins, in heels, leaping gazelle-like from rock to rock with boiling lava all around, her belly pretty much invisible unless she turns sideways, dang her). All right, maybe with C3PO, which makes sense, given my love of Miss Manners. But it's not one of those things I'd care to admit publicly.


Third thing: I shall, as God is my witness, get back to America Alone - soon. When my husband relinquishes custody of it and the beginning of the school year steadies down a bit.